Lymphatic Congestion

The Lymphatic System is a drainage network of fluid, organs and vessels that is responsible for the removal of cellular debris, large proteins, foreign bodies, pathogenic agents (bacteria, viruses, toxins etc.) and excess fluid from the extracellular spaces. The lymph moves through the lymph nodes, which act as active purification centers.

The primary lymphoid organs include the bone marrow and thymus. The secondary lymphoid organs include lymph nodes, spleen, appendix, tonsils, adenoids and Peyer’s patches (lymphoid tissue present in the small and large intestines). Their function is to defend the body against aggressive agents entering the body or to destroy accumulated wastes.

There are approximately 6 to 10 liters of lymph in the body, compared to 3.5 to 5 liters of blood. About 1.5 to 2 liters of lymph per day circulate throughout the whole body. Efficient activation of the lymphatic circulation can increase this number from 10 to 30 liters per day. Lymph vessels slowly increase in size, moving lymph toward its entry into the circulatory system, behind the heart. The lymphatic system is not connected to the heart, so it has to rely upon some other method, usually muscular contraction, to create the necessary pumping action needed to move lymph. The lymphatic system is filled with millions of one-way valves, which allow lymph fluid to flow in one direction only – usually upward and away from gravity.

Lymph vessels can become clogged with protein deposits or the flow can stagnate or even stop for reasons such as fatigue, stress, infection, emotional shock, lack of physical activity and dehydration. This can result in tissue swelling (edema) – lymphostatic edema results from the abnormal accumulation of protein in the lymph vessel, along with osmotically held fluids in the interstitial space (lymphedema). Consequently, as toxins accumulate, cells are unable to function properly resulting in various metabolic and infectious problems.

The most important methods of promoting lymphatic circulation are external massage, muscular activity, vigorous exercise and adequate hydration.

Lymph passes through processing and collection centers called lymph nodes which:

  • Act as filtration and purification stations for the lymph circulation
  • Capture and destroy toxins
  • Trap cancer cells in order to destroy
  • Concentrate the lymph, reabsorbing about 40% of the liquid present in the lymph
  • Produce lymphocytes and monocytes.

Lymph nodes offer 100 times more resistance to lymph flow than the whole rest of the system put together. The production of lymphocytes is increased when the flow of lymph is increased through the nodes. There are from 400 up to 1,000 nodes in the human body, more than one-half located in the abdomen.

The American medical community historically ignores lymph stagnation as a possible cause of disease. Despite this, the following conditions are examples that are reported to improve through improved lymphatic drainage:
Allergies, prostatitis, chronic sinusitis, heart disease, eczema and other skin conditions, fibrocystic disease, chronic fatigue, repetitive parasitic infections, MS, edema, lupus erythematosis, inflammation, high blood pressure, bacterial infections, viral infections, puffy eyes, low back pain, cancer, ear or balance problems, arthritis, headaches, cellulite, excessive sweating and obesity.

Treatments:

The use of a small trampoline called a rebounder is a popular way to reduce lymphatic congestion. It is claimed that rebounding is so efficient in stimulating the lymph flow that some call it “Lymphocizing”. The up-and-down rhythmic bouncing causes the one-way valves to open and close simultaneously increasing lymph flow many times over.

Massage has been shown in numerous studies to relieve stress, improve circulation and lymph flow, enhance immune function, relieve muscle and joint pain, and correct various disorders of the muscles and nerves. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is an advanced therapy in which the practitioner uses a range of specialised and rhythmic gentle pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow. This promotes lymph flow, which in turn removes waste products.

Chronic dehydration can slow and stagnate the flow of lymph. This is just another reason to make a serious effort to drink 8 glasses of water a day.

There are homeopathic drainage products and programs designed to resolve lymph-related problems and various light/laser or electrical devices developed to reduce lymphostatic edema, often used with lymphatic massage.

 


Signs, symptoms & indicators of Lymphatic Congestion

Lab Values - Common  

High systolic blood pressure



Symptoms - General  

Having a CFS diagnosis or history of CFS diagnosis



Symptoms - Glandular  

(Frequent) cervical node swelling



 

(Frequent) painful cervical nodes



 

Postauricular node problems



 

(History of) swollen axillary nodes



 

(History of) painful axillary nodes



 

(Often) swollen inguinal nodes



 

(Often) painful inguinal nodes



Symptoms - Skin - General  

Excess perspiration




Conditions that suggest Lymphatic Congestion

Immunity  


Infections  


Organ Health  



Risk factors for Lymphatic Congestion

Diet  

Dehydration

Drinking plenty of water makes sure the body is well-hydrated and helps the lymphatic system do its job of flushing toxins and waste from the body.



Metabolic  


Symptoms - Allergy  

History of adult allergies



Symptoms - Head - Nose  

History of sinusitis




Lymphatic Congestion suggests the following may be present

Cell Salts  


Metabolic  



Lymphatic Congestion can lead to

Metabolic  

Edema (Water Retention)

Edema may be due to lymphedema. There are two kinds. Inherited lymphedema, or primary lymphedema, in which you are born lacking lymph vessels and nodes. The swelling usually appears during your adolescence and affects your foot or calf. A rare form of primary lymphedema develops in infancy and is called Milroy’s disease. Acquired lymphedema or secondary lymphedema, in which an injury to your lymphatic system causes lymphedema. It is much more common than primary lymphedema.

Some people develop chronic lymphedema, which can last for the rest of your life. Chronic lymphedema can be a difficult form of lymphedema to treat. Swollen limbs become vulnerable to infection. Any kind of injury to the skin, such as a cut, scratch, insect bite, or even athlete’s foot between your toes can cause a severe infection, which physicians call lymphangitis. Lymphangitis affects the connective tissue under your skin. Repeated infections can cause scarring that makes the tissue vulnerable to more swelling and infection. This leads to the tissue hardening, called fibrosis, which is characteristic of advanced chronic lymphedema.




Recommendations for Lymphatic Congestion

Botanical  


 

Castor Oil

One of the most significant benefits of castor oil is being a stimulant to the lymph system, improving lymphatic flow and increasing the activity of the cleansing of tissues.



 


Drug  

Conventional Drugs / Information

DAFLON 500 mg improves lymphatic drainage by increasing the frequency and intensity of lymphatic contractions, and by increasing the total number of functional lymphatic capillaries. Furthermore, DAFLON 500 mg decreases the diameter of lymphatic capillaries and the intralymphatic pressure. [Phlebology. 1994;(suppl 1): p.23-25, Lymphology. 1998;31(suppl): pp.12-16]



Physical Medicine  


 


Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended

Glossary

Lymphatic System

A network of vessels which collect fluid from the tissues of the body and return it to the blood. Lymphatic fluid (also called lymph) is rich in white blood cells that fight infection and an important part of the body's immune system.

Protein

Compounds composed of hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen present in the body and in foods that form complex combinations of amino acids. Protein is essential for life and is used for growth and repair. Foods that supply the body with protein include animal products, grains, legumes, and vegetables. Proteins from animal sources contain the essential amino acids. Proteins are changed to amino acids in the body.

Bacteria

Microscopic germs. Some bacteria are "harmful" and can cause disease, while other "friendly" bacteria protect the body from harmful invading organisms.

Virus

Any of a vast group of minute structures composed of a protein coat and a core of DNA and/or RNA that reproduces in the cells of the infected host. Capable of infecting all animals and plants, causing devastating disease in immunocompromised individuals. Viruses are not affected by antibiotics, and are completely dependent upon the cells of the infected host for the ability to reproduce.

Lymph

A clear fluid that flows through lymph vessels and is collected from the tissues throughout the body. Its function is to nourish tissue cells and return waste matter to the bloodstream. The lymph system eventually connects with and adds to venous circulation.

Lymph Nodes

Small, bean-shaped nodes at various points throughout the body that function to filter the lymph fluid and attempt to destroy the microorganisms and abnormal cells which collect there. The most common locations are the neck (both sides and front), armpit and groin, but also under the jaw and behind the ears. Swollen or painful lymph nodes generally result from localized or systemic infection, abscess formation, or malignancy. Other causes of enlarged lymph nodes are extremely rare. Physical examination for lymph nodes includes pressing on them to check for size, texture, warmth, tenderness and mobility. Most lymph nodes can not be felt until they become swollen, and then will only be tender when pressed or massaged. A lymph node that is painful even without touching indicates greater swelling. Lymph nodes can usually be distinguished from other growths because they generally feel small, smooth, round or oval-shaped and somewhat mobile when attempts are made to push them sideways. Because less fat covers the lymph nodes in children, they are easier to feel, even when they are not busy filtering germs or making antibodies. Children’s nodes enlarge faster, get bigger in response to an infection and stay swollen longer than an adult's.

Peyer's Patches

Lymphoid follicles similar to lymph nodes or the tonsils, located especially in the lower small intestine. They contain white blood cells, defend against invading bacteria and try to prevent inadequately digested food particles from crossing the gut wall and entering the blood. They are one of the organs of the immune system which also includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, tonsils and the appendix.

Lymph Glands

Located in the lymph vessels of the body, these glands trap foreign material and produce lymphocytes. These glands act as filters in the lymph system, and contain and form lymphocytes and permit lymphatic cells to destroy certain foreign agents.

Edema

Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.

Metabolism

The chemical processes of living cells in which energy is produced in order to replace and repair tissues and maintain a healthy body. Responsible for the production of energy, biosynthesis of important substances, and degradation of various compounds.

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Allergy

Hypersensitivity caused by exposure to a particular antigen (allergen), resulting in an increased reactivity to that antigen on subsequent exposure, sometimes with harmful immunologic consequences.

Chronic

Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.

Eczema

Swelling of the outer skin of unknown cause. In the early stage it may be itchy, red, have small blisters, and be swollen, and weeping. Later it becomes crusted, scaly, and thickened.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a disorder of unknown cause that lasts for prolonged periods and causes extreme and debilitating exhaustion as well as a wide range of other symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle ache and joint pain, often resembling flu and other viral infections. Also known as Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), "Yuppy Flu" and other names, it is frequently misdiagnosed as hypochondria, psychosomatic illness, or depression, because routine medical tests do not detect any problems.

Arthritis

Inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness, and resulting from infection, trauma, degenerative changes, metabolic disturbances, or other causes. It occurs in various forms, such as bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is characterized by a gradual loss of cartilage and often an overgrowth of bone at the joints.

Homeopathy

A system of medicine based on the belief that the cure of disease can be effected by minute doses of substances that, if given to a healthy person in large doses, would produce the same symptoms as are present in the disease being treated. Homeopathy employs natural substances in small doses to stimulate the body's reactive process to remove toxic waste and bring the body back into balance.

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